The Gourmet Cupboard is one of those home-party baking-mixes companies, like Tastefully Simple. I hadn't heard of The Gourmet Cupboard until I met one of their reps, Sarah Jones of Eglon, WV -- the only one I know and one of eight in my state.
I've tried some of The Gourmet Cupboard's products and I will probably order some more. Do you need a mix to make these things? In many cases, no. Is it easier? Sometimes. Is it cheaper? It can be -- especially if nuts are included. These are time-saving and mostly reasonably priced -- most mixes are about $4 or $5 each. One, probably the most expensive, is $7.50. A pound of their flavored whole-bean coffee is $15.50; ground is $17.50. Way too steep for me.
Of all the things I've tried, the Chocolate-covered Cherry Hot Cocoa for $4 (makes 8 cups) is about the only thing I don't like. My opinion is that this is cherry Kool-Aid mixed with hot cocoa mix. It's rather fake-tasting and unnaturally red. I would not get it again.
I purchased the Apple Baklava for $7.50 and I can still taste it. It was that good. The mix is ground apples and nuts and sugar and spices. It's worth the price BUT this is a very rich dessert -- in calories and expense -- once you add the fillo dough, honey and ONE POUND of butter. I thought the directions were confusing but my dessert turned out fine. I have made baklava before so I figured it out. However, I think it's possible to use maybe a stick less butter and still have it turn out delicious. -- I can't believe I just recommended using less butter! I would probably get this again, even though I know how to make baklava and choc-lava from scratch without a hassle.
At a party, I have tried the Tomato Basil Dip and it was very good. I think the website says you mix half a package with 1 cup of sour cream. A package costs $3.75 and I think all the savory dips are well worth that price. Update: The savory Cucumber Dip was a hit as a Thanksgiving appetizer.
I tasted the Dreamsicle Pie ($4) and it really does taste like the old-fashioned orange Popsicle with ice-cream in the middle. It requires 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, 8 ounces of Cool Whip, and a pre-made graham cracker crust. For creamier, richer pie, add sweetened condensed milk.
I tasted the Pecan Pie Muffins because Sarah graciously saved me a taste at another event. I can see why these go fast. They are yummy. I looked up a pecan pie muffin recipe and it's not that difficult. But for the price of pecans alone at the grocery store, this mix might be worth $4.75 to make 9 regular-sized muffins. You add eggs and oil.
I poked around on the Gourmet Cupboard website and I found some novel things.
Funnel Cake Mix ($3.75) makes 6 cakes when you add 1 egg, milk, and a funnel. Yields 6 regular sized cakes.
I have always wanted to make beignets since I saw "The Princess & The Frog." I might try this mix ($4.25), although I do have a recipe for beignets. It's not the ingredients, but the technique that worries me about making beignets and Pecan Pralines, which the Gourmet Cupboard also has mix for ($6.50 -- you add whipping cream and vanilla.) Obviously the sugar and pecans merit the price. But in the case of the beignets, which requires you to add an egg, evaporated milk, shortening, and oil for frying plus powdered sugar and/or cinnamon for sprinkling, what are you getting for $4.50 -- flour and sugar? Maybe yeast?
They also sell a mix for Mardi Gras King Cake. Its description is not my understanding of what a King Cake is. You add frozen rolls, butter, and milk so it sounds like a take on Monkey Bread to me. I'm trying to figure out what exactly you get for $4.75 besides sugar or pudding mix and the small plastic baby that you will hide in the cake after baking and the icing mix packet. I would not get this.
If you want to make your own Kung Pao Chicken, there's a mix for that. It costs $4.50. You add chicken, rice vinegar, and olive oil. I read customers' comments and saw that some people serve it with mashed potatoes. *Shakes head in shock and awe*
From the website I also learned how the company started. Mother and daughter Judy Baker and Melissa Holmes started The Gourmet Cupboard in 2001 by making homemade mixes to give as gifts. When they saw how popular they were at craft fairs, they started making them to sell in a special kitchen Melissa's husband built beside their house. Now they are lodged in a bigger facility. The success of the company has enabled Melissa to stay home with her children. Melissa says some of their original mixes such as Heavenly Chocolate Pie, a recipe from my great-grandmother, and Mexican Meatloaf, are based on recipes that have been in the family for years.
If you're a serious cook, you might say "why bother", but if these fill a need for saving time in your life, they may be worth it. I had fun trying these at the party and I like Sarah so I will find something to order again.